Create a B2B Segmentation Strategy in a Few Easy Steps

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A Roadmap for Creating Stronger Marketing Campaigns

It’s no secret that customers have more control than ever before. In a time prominently dubbed “the age of the customer” by Forrester Research, we’re witnessing consumers dictate when, where, and how they want to interact with brands. And if companies fail to meet their needs, they’ll simply move on to those that will. This new age of consumerism has forced marketers to become customer-obsessed. This means understanding everything about their audience and connecting with them on an individual level. Knowing how to align your brand message to meet the needs of your customer is not easy, but employing an effective B2B customer segmentation strategy can help.

The first thing B2B marketers can do to combat ad fraud is to establish clear and open communication with their media-buying agencies.
 

The Impact of B2B Segmentation

Segmentation may not be the shiny new marketing tactic getting all the buzz, but it’s certainly one of the most important tactics a marketer has at their disposal. While many marketing trends come and go, B2B segmentation remains a tried and true tactic for helping companies identify and target their most valuable customers and prospects.

 

Segmentation is all about knowing who your audience is, understanding how they differ, and having a meaningful message that speaks to their unique needs and challenges. A well-planned B2B segmentation strategy can be the difference between winning customers and alienating prospects. According to user data from email company MailChimp, segmented campaigns get 14% more opens and 59% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns. That’s because those messages resonate. The benefits of segmentation are clear:

  • Increased sales
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Strengthened customer retention
  • Expanded customer reach

A True Segmentation Horror Story

Don’t believe a segmentation strategy is critical to your business? Let me share an unpleasant experience I had with a big box sports retailer I have since stopped doing business with.

However, the value of deterministic data goes beyond verifying buyers. It’s also helpful for identifying legitimate (and fraudulent) businesses throughout the digital advertising ecosystem.
 

A few years ago, I received an email promoting Philadelphia Phillies championship merchandise. At first glance, I thought one of my friends had forwarded it to me as a way of gloating about his team. But alas, it was sent by a retailer – a retailer I had previously done business with! Not that I was bitter (well, maybe), but I didn’t want to be reminded that my team didn’t win (yet again). Surely, this was something the retailer could have avoided.

 

When I made my first purchase with this retailer, I specifically requested to receive updates. My first message was a confirmation email about my order. Over the next few months, I received a coupon and an alert about free shipping. But not once did they do anything to learn more about me.

There are a number of things this retailer could have done to better segment its audience – me – based on my interests. Perhaps the most effective thing they could have done was ask me to select my favorite sports teams; this is a sports retailer after all. The same type of questioning can be used by any type of business. It’s really quite simple, and it would have shown that this retailer actually cares about its customers. But even missing this crucial step, all they had to do was look at my purchase history. Seeing as I’d once bought a retro New York Mets 1986 Keith Hernandez jersey, the first-pass assumption should have been I was not a Phillies fan!

The more intelligence a marketer has on its customers, the more relevant subsequent marketing campaigns will be. Segmenting your customer list allows you to better home in on your audience’s preferences in order to help increase lifetime engagement. My own engagement with this specific sports retailer ended faster than a typical New York Mets baseball season – I have since unsubscribed from their email list and won’t be visiting any of their stores. Needless to say, if you want to avoid alienating your customers, make sure each audience segment has its own unique message that reaches out to the reader in a personal way – so you can knock that next campaign out of the park.

B2B Segmentation Is Challenging

The example above is a lesson for all marketers: Know your audience. But it’s a bit more challenging for B2B marketers when it comes to customer segmentation.

B2C marketers tend to segment customers by their age, income, gender, and other personally defining characteristics. This highly personal buying dynamic in the B2C scenario can be juxtaposed with the “interpersonal” B2B buying dynamic. B2B buying decisions heavily depend on how complex relationships within the organization will be affected by a decision. Layer competing corporate or functional goals on top of that, and the result is significant pressure on members of the decision-making committee to vet vendors and reach agreement. As a result, the B2B purchase funnel includes stakeholders who might sit in different groups within an organization, with multiple goals, competing performance metrics, and differing budgets.

That said, knowing where to start on the road to segmentation can be a daunting task. For B2B marketers, the data needed for segmentation may not always be there (or can get quite complex). The good news for marketers is that a little research can go a long way in helping streamline and perfect B2B segmentation. When planning your segmentation strategy, be sure to ask yourself these vital questions.

B2B Messaging

What are your company’s key differentiators?

Think about the things that make your offerings stand out against all your competitors. You’ll want to highlight things that are important to your audience and unique to your company’s product or solution. Also, be sure your differentiation strategy is geared toward customers and prospects, as each group may have different needs.

B2B Buyers

Who’s actually making purchases?

Here’s where you’ll want to outline the most prominent features of your ideal buying audience. What do they do, where do they work, and where do they sit within the organization? Knowing these details can start to paint a clearer picture of your audience.

B2B Personas

What are your customers’ buying motivations?

Once you determine who is buying from you, you’ll want to better understand their pain points and how to communicate with them. A great method of doing this is by building buyer personas that detail the preferences of each buyer in your segmentation strategy.

B2B Behavioral Insights

What are your potential behavioral triggers?

A standard review of activity on your website could reveal a sale that was made as result of a web visitor downloading content about a particular topic. You may, as a result, decide to handle and communicate with those who download content in a different manner than web visitors who don’t. Or, you may want to serve up several different messages and see how they resonate and with whom. It may tell you a lot about which message is relevant to each of your buyers. Once you know this, you’ll want to create differing messaging tracks for them.

Exercises to Get Your Segmentation in Shape

To try and simplify B2B audience targeting, we’ve created the following workbook for you to consider when thinking about your strategy. By following these simple planning activities, you’ll be able to create stronger marketing messaging in just four simple steps. Get ready to embark on the journey to better segmentation.

 

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